Trucking and the Republican Platform
August 02, 2000
A look at the 2000 GOP Platform, ratified at last week's national convention in Philadelphia, turns up several areas of interest to the trucking industry.
One of the hottest issues in the election race that affects trucking is that of high fuel prices. The GOP platform attacks the current administration's energy policy.
"What happened? Eight years ago, the nation was energy confident. Our standing in the Middle East was at its zenith. The oil cartel was in retreat; gasoline was affordable, even as automotive progress reduced emissions from cars. Today, gas prices have skyrocketed, and oil imports are at all-time highs. Foreign oil now accounts for one-third of our total trade deficit. Meanwhile, domestic oil production has fallen 17 percent over the last eight years, as vast areas of the continental U.S. have been put off limits to energy leasing - though we depend on oil and natural gas for 65 percent of our energy supply…. By any reasonable standard, the Department of Energy has utterly failed in its mission to safeguard America's energy security.
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been no better, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been shutting off America's energy pipeline with a regulatory blitz that has only just begun."
The Republicans would enact a National Energy Security Act, which would increase domestic supplies of coal, oil and natural gas; promote development of oil and gas reserves on federally owned land, including the Coastal Plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; provide tax incentives for energy production; and expand tax credits for renewable energy sources.
The Republicans are pledging to reduce taxes, and it's quite possible that fuel taxes could be included. "Excise taxes of all kinds have snowballed, because they shift public resentment from government to the businesses that are forced to collect them," reads the platform. "One example is the gas tax of 1993."
In addition, the platform says, "transportation policy remains inseparable from energy policy. The trucking industry, for example, is hard hit by current gas prices and would be crippled by the administration's new 'hours of service' regulation."
Regulation also comes up in a section about small businesses - and the majority of trucking companies are small businesses. The Republicans praise small businesses in the platform, calling them "the underlying essence of our economy."
The GOP platform pledges to give small businesses "far better treatment from government than they have received," through lower tax rates, ending the death tax that makes it difficult to pass along family-owned businesses, and cutting through red tape.
"We will end the harassment of small businesses by federal agencies," reads the platform. The party pledges to withdraw OSHA's proposed ergonomics standard and to "halt the IRS discrimination against independent contractors."
Because providing health insurance is a major challenge for small business owners, the GOP wants to immediately allow 100 percent deductibility of health insurance premiums and let small businesses band together across state lines to buy insurance through association health plans.
Opening the border to Mexican trucks as called for in the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a controversial issue in the trucking industry. While the platform does not specifically address this issue, it does speak highly of free trade.
"The fearful build walls; the confident demolish them," George W. Bush is quoted as saying in the platform. "I am confident in American workers, farmers and producers, and I am confident that America's best is the best in the world."
The GOP platform indicates that a Republican administration and Congress would be aggressive in developing U.S. leadership of a global economy. However, the platform says, "free trade must be fair trade … we must be at the table when trade agreements are negotiated, make the interests of American workers and farmers paramount, and ensure that the drive to open new markets is successful. The vitality of that agenda depends upon the vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws against unfair competition."
The platform calls commerce "the lifeblood of our economy, and the transportation infrastructure is its circulatory system. Without safe and efficient transport, the economy withers away."